When crisis management training transforms into crisis handling

May 12, 2016 by Jonathan Hemus

The recent crisis management exercise at Manchester’s Trafford Shopping Centre is to be applauded: it is only through thorough crisis management training that the emergency services, businesses and other organisations can ensure they do and say the right things under intense pressure.

So it was unfortunate that the police had to apologise for offence caused by a ‘terrorist’ shouting "Allahu Akbar" before setting off explosives as part of the exercise.

It’s a stark reminder that whilst crisis simulations are an essential element of crisis management planning, they carry their own risks.

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Here are three steps to ensure that your crisis exercise does not morph into a crisis all of its own:


Conduct a risk assessment – have someone from outside of your team consider what could go wrong in the exercise and potential ramifications; if a particular element jeopardises the integrity of the exercise, change it


Contain communication within the crisis simulation – never allow email or telephone communication outside of the confines of the exercise; any leakage risks outsiders mistaking an exercise for a real incident


Apply tight control to exercise dynamics – skilled facilitation is essential to ensure than an exercise remains on track; brief role players beforehand and ensure that their contributions fall within the parameters you have agreed

A crisis simulation exercise is one of the best ways for organisations to ensure they are ready to respond quickly and effectively to an incident. But it must be planned with military precision if it is not to fall flat, or worse, create a bigger crisis than the one it was designed to address.

For more information, download our guidelines to running a successful crisis simulation or take a look behind the scenes at a recent Insignia exercise, view the video below.


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Winner of Consultancy of the Year at CIR Business Continuity Awards 2023

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Finalists for Specialist Consultancy of the Year at CIR Business Continuity Awards 2020 & 2023

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Finalists in 2023 Great British Entrepreneur Awards: Service Industries category

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Winner Specialist Business Book of the Year 2021 at The Business Book Awards (Crisis Proof)

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Finalists in the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards 2021: Purpose Before Profit category

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Finalists in the Business Champion Awards 2021: Champions in a Crisis category

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Finalists for Business Advisor of the Year at the 2021 Growing Business Awards

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Shortlisted for BCI Europe Awards 2023: Continuity and Resilience Consultant category